The eXIthera Team


Neil J Hayward, Ph.D.
CEO, President, Co-Founder, Board Member

Dr. Hayward has held previous positions within both large pharmaceutical companies (GSK and Pfizer) and biotechnology companies (Alkermes, Praecis, Daiamed, and Hydra Biosciences).  He has over 30 years experience in discovery, preclinical research and development, and has successfully filed 7 INDs and product registrations of 2 new chemical entities. 

Prior to co-founding and being the President and Chief Executive Officer at eXIthera Pharmaceuticals in August 2012, Dr. Hayward was Vice President of Pharmacology & Toxicology at Hydra Biosciences.  At Hydra Biosciences, Dr. Hayward played a key role in the identification and selection of ion channels as potential therapeutic targets, the execution of preclinical studies, and the subsequent nomination of small molecules as development candidates for internal projects and external collaborations (Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer and Zalicus).  Therapeutic targets investigated include pain, inflammation, asthma, anxiety, and bladder function. With colleagues at Cubist Pharmaceuticals, he identified a potent, selective and orally active TRPA1 inhibitor as a potential novel painkiller.  The development candidate (CB-189,625) has recently successfully completed Phase 1 clinical trials. 

Dr. Hayward received his B.Sc. (Hons) degree from the University of London and M.Phil. & Ph.D. degrees in Pharmacology from the University of Cambridge, UK.  Dr. Hayward has published over 80 scientific papers and abstracts and is an author on 6 patents and 7 patent applications.

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Paula M. Bokesch, MD, FAA
Clinical Development

Dr. Bokesch has more than 12 years of drug development experience in acute and critical care indications.  Most recently she was the Chief Medical Officer at Tenax Therapeutics, where she focused on clinical development of products for low cardiac output syndrome following heart surgery and sepsis. Prior to that she was Senior Medical Director at Cubist Pharmaceuticals where she held various positions in both drug discovery and clinical development of critical care products, including Lead Senior Medical Director for Cubicin® (daptomycin).  Cubicin® is an acute-care antibiotic indicated for treatment of complicated infections caused by Gram-positive bacteria.  Among many other responsibilities, Paula was responsible for Cubicin® life cycle strategy and legacy studies and design and management of global pediatric clinical trials. 

Before moving to Cubist, she was Global Medical Director at Hospira.  Her responsibilities at Hospira were focused primarily on global medical affairs and development and approval of the proprietary drug, the alpha-2-agonist analgesic and sedative Precedex®, including study/protocol design Phase I - IV, study start up and conduct, eCRF design, writing clinical study reports, Pediatric Written Request, and two sNDA submissions to FDA. 

Dr. Bokesch received her MD degree from Wake Forest University School of Medicine followed by 7 years of postgraduate training at University of North Carolina and Harvard Medical School.  She practiced as a pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist for most of her career.  Until recently she was a practicing anesthesiologist at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston and is an Affiliate Assistant Professor at Tufts School of Medicine.  Additional academic appointments include Boston's Children's Hospital, Tufts New England Medical Center (Assistant Professor), Cleveland Clinic and Emory School of Medicine (Associate professor).  Dr. Bokesch has published more than 135 papers, abstracts and articles.


Bert L. Chenard, Ph.D.

Dr. Chenard is presently the Executive Director of Medicinal Chemistry at Sunovion with over 30 years of industry experience specializing in ion channel and G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) research.  Previously, Dr. Chenard served as Senior Vice President, Chemistry, Pharmacology and Preclinical Development at Hydra Biosciences and before that was Sr. Vice President of Chemistry and Process Research at Neurogen Corp.  In this role, he delivered a dozen small molecule development candidates including Adipiplon, a subtype-selective GABA agonist.  Prior to Neurogen, Dr. Chenard was a Research Advisor at Pfizer Inc. in a career spanning over 15 years.  His research efforts at Pfizer generated several development candidates including Traxoprodil, the first highly selective NR2B antagonist. Dr. Chenard began his career at DuPont's Experimental Station doing exploratory organic chemistry.  Here, he discovered several specialized reagents, including TMSOK, which are of general use to synthetic chemists.

Dr. Chenard received his B.A. at Central Connecticut State University and a Ph.D. from Ohio State University.  He has more than 100 publications and granted U.S. patents.